Despite numerous soft power resources, Mexico's image is struggling under disappointing leadership.
The massive protests sweeping Venezuela come at a time when many in that country have an increasingly dark view of both their own standard of living and the direction of the nation’s economy. A record low 33% of Venezuelans said their standard of living was improving, according to a Gallup poll conducted last fall and released Tuesday. Just a year earlier, 54% had said their standard of living was improving.
Many objected when Secretary of State John Kerry referred to Latin America as "the backyard" of the United States last April. While his statement may have been intended as an innocuous comment on geography, the implications of his words represent an all too common attitude about our Southerly neighbors that is not only ignorant, but often inaccurate.
The day that 17-year-old Israel Arenas Durán disappeared began, like most, with his mother making him breakfast. He ate with his father and 15-year-old brother, Irving, at a small wooden table outside the family's single-room home, overlooking the plant nursery they run in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leó.
The Venezuelan government plans to create a new force tasked with patrolling the border with Colombia, which will face an uphill battle if it is to make a dent in crime in a region where criminal groups, corrupt security forces and general lawlessness run rampant. President Nicolas Maduro announced the government will create a Joint Task Force, which will be a "civic-military" initiative bringing together area residents, political actors and security forces with the goal of reinforcing border security.